You know the threatening comments Kurt Busch made to SportingNews.com reporter Bob Pockrass? While NASCAR deemed them worthy of a suspension, defending Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart said Tuesday night they were right on the money.
"Honestly, Kurt is right: Bob Pockrass is probably the biggest mixer in the whole media center," Stewart said during the Tony Stewart Live show on Sirius/XM. "Every time he interviews somebody, it is strictly controversial."
Stewart went on to say he "liked (Busch's) answer" about wanting to beat up Pockrass.
"I kind of thought it was good when it pertains to Bob Pockrass," Stewart said with a chuckle. "There are so many good things to write about in our sport, and there are a couple reporters out there who want to be tabloid journalists and unfortunately, he's one of them."
Obviously, I disagree with Stewart. This topic is like the argument about good racing: What is often considered "good" for the drivers is not considered "good" for the fans (take Bristol or restrictor-plate racing, for example).
Similarly, many drivers seem to expect media to be part of the family and focus on writing positive stories. They don't understand that a journalist is supposed to write about what is happening in the sport, whether it's good or not.
Pockrass takes his job very seriously and covers everything from big issues to small ones. But he is also not afraid to ask the tough questions that often need to be asked.
Stewart, though, sees it differently.
"Bob is one of those guys, he's kind of like a big bass, so to speak," Stewart said. "He'll lay behind the rock or lay behind the log until something comes by, and then he's just going to grab at it. He's got the talent to be a better journalist than what he is. And he's not a bad journalist, my concern is the topic and the way he goes about it every week.
"It's a positive sport. It's a great sport that we have."
I believe comments like these do a disservice to the NASCAR media as a whole, because fans and others in the sport look at reporters and get the impression we're all out to bury those we cover. I really do not believe that's the case.
In fact, based on what I've seen while covering other sports, I don't think the NASCAR media is one of the more cutthroat groups of reporters out there. While NASCAR and the drivers do have to deal with difficult questions at times, it's nothing like the questions pro athletes in some other major sports get.
For example: Imagine if the current group of NASCAR media was replaced by a bunch of New York Jets beat writers. Then the drivers would really be unhappy and would be begging for the old reporters to come back.
While I respect Stewart, I don't think he understands that in general, NASCAR drivers have a relatively easy group of reporters to work with.
Where Stewart and others believe the NASCAR media likes to engage in "gotcha journalism," I believe it's simply "journalism."